Serena makes her pro debut at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow,
losing in the first round to Kimberly Po, 6-3,
In her second WTA main-draw event, the Ameritech Cup in Chicago,
No. 304 Serena upsets No. 7 Mary Pierce and No. 4 Monica Seles on her way to the
semifinals. She is the lowest ranked player ever to defeat two top 10 players in
the same tournament. Later this month, Serena skips school to ride her red
skateboard and wipes out on the sidewalk. She breaks the fall with her left
wrist, jamming it in the process. The resulting pain leads Serena to run around
her two-handed backhand and develop an imposing
Venus graduates from The Driftwood Academy, an accredited
30-student private high school in Lake Park, Fla. Serena will graduate from
Driftwood the following August; both maintain a 3.0-plus
In the second round of the Australian Open, the sisters play
against each other for the first time as pros. Venus wins in straight sets.
After the loss, Serena announces she will play German Karsten Braasch in the
next few days. Braasch is 30, ranked No. 226 in the world, and a man. Serena
says she's "going to take him out." She loses, 6-1. Venus is
eliminated in the quarterfinals by Lindsay Davenport, after being penalized a
game point for twice shedding a handful of her hair beads on the court.
"I'm not causing a disturbance here!" she screams to the chair
Serena signs a five-year deal with Puma that comes with a high
risk and a large upside: it will be worth $12 million if she cracks the top 10.
She does so 15 months
March 1, 1998
Venus wins her first pro title at the IGA Tennis Classic in
Oklahoma City. She also teams with Serena to win the pair's first women's
Serena cracks the top 20 eight months after her pro debut by reaching
the quarterfinals of the Direct Line Insurance Championships in Lastbourne. No
player has ever risen so far so fast on the WTA Tour. Lastbourne also marks the
first time Serena advances further than Venus in a
In a tough Wimbledon for the sisters, Serena retires with an
injury while trailing 7-5, 4-1 in a third-round match against Virginia
Ruano-Pascal. She then plays mixed doubles the next day, going on to win the
title with partner Max Mirnyi. Meanwhile, Venus is one point away from going up
5-2 in the first set of her quarterfinal match against eventual champion Jana
Novotna when she falters and loses in straight sets.
At the Italian Open in Palermo, the sisters play each other for the
second time, and again Venus wins in straight sets. The tournament is Serena's
first as a pro on clay, yet she dispatches three of the world's top 25 players
on her way to the quarterfinal showdown with
The sisters ship off 30 copies of the inaugural issue of The
Tennis Monthly Recap, a newsletter they have written, edited and designed. They
distribute it at the Australian Open the following month. The four-page edition
includes an interview request with the sisters' hero, Pete Sampras, as well as
the following Open preview, authored by Venus: "With a powerful forehand,
formidable serve, bottomless heart and a barrel of fight ... Serena is the most
dangerous unseeded player to ever compete in any
February 28, 1999
Venus wins a title in Oklahoma City on the same day Serena
wins a tournament in Rome, marking the first time two sisters have won
professional titles in the same week. Between matches, the sisters spend most of
their downtime communicating with each other online.
March 13, 1999
Serena wins the Evert Cup at Indian Wells, defeating Steffi Graf
in the finals 6-3, 3-6, 7-5. "I'm tired of losing to people I should
beat," Serena says. "Whatever my potential is, I want to reach it --
now. And if I do, I see Venus as my biggest
March 28, 1999
In the first matchup of sisters in a pro women's tennis final
since 1884, Venus beats Serena 6-1, 4-6, 6-4 at the Lipton Championships, ending
Serena's 16-match winning streak. "The way we're both playing, it was
inevitable we'd meet in a final," Venus says. "And it's inevitable
April 5, 1999
Serena breaks into the top 10 for the first time, coming in at
June 6, 1999
Serena and Venus defeat Martina Hingis and Anna Kournikova at the
French Open, 6-3, 6-7, 8-6, becoming the first sisters to pair up and win a
doubles title in the 20th
Venus skips the du Maurier Open in Toronto because Serena is
scheduled to play (Serena later drops out with a shoulder injury). The sisters
had decided at the beginning of the year to avoid entering the draw in the same
events, and as a result Serena has played singles at only four WTA tournaments
since March. This scheduling puts a kink in their plan to eventually be the No.
1 and No. 2 players in the
September 12, 1999
In the U.S. Open finals, Serena outthinks and outmuscles No.
1 Martina Hingis 6-3, 7-6 to win her first -- and the family's first -- Grand
Slam singles title. Serena's previous best finish in a Slam came at Roland
Garros in 1998, when she reached the fourth round. "It was almost like a
death, that loss for Venus," Oracene says of Hingis's defeat of Venus in
the semifinals. "She thinks since she's the oldest, she should've been the
October 3, 1999
Serena defeats her sister for the first time, winning the Grand
Slam Cup final in Munich, 6-1, 3-6,
The sisters tape 10 episodes of the Hollywood Squares, which air
from Nov. 22 to Dec. 5. They handle questions on sports mascots, but have some
trouble with history queries. "I was born in 1980," Venus grumbles.
"They asked which movie did Molly Ringwald star in with a lot of teenagers.
I don't know. Who was the fourth president of the United States? I don't
January 24, 2000
Serena loses to Elena Likhovtseva in the fourth round at the
Australian Open. Serena, who has not played a match in more than three months,
shows up two days before the tournament starts and burns up in her new flaming
red-and-black dress. Meanwhile, Venus misses the tournament with tendinitis in
While Venus skips the Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne, rumors swirl
about her impending retirement. Venus has not played in almost four months.
"I would like to see her retire now," says Richard. "I would love
to see her do that." Serena, getting in on the act, jokes, "I'm going
to announce my retirement at
Venus returns from her five-month hiatus at the Betty Barclay Cup, a
French Open warmup. She loses in the quarterfinals to Amanda
July 8, 2000
Venus wins her first Grand Slam singles title, dispatching
defending champ Lindsay Davenport at Wimbledon in straight sets. Venus reaches
the finals by defeating a visibly nervous Serena, leading some to speculate that
Serena had deliberately eased up for her big sister's benefit. "That's a
goddamn shame that people come up with that bull----," Richard says. The
night after winning the singles title, Venus stays up until 2 a.m. partying with
Serena. The dynamic duo win the women's doubles title the next
July 31, 2000
Venus and Serena are named to represent the U.S. in Sydney at the
Aug. 27, 2000
Venus and Serena appear at famed Manhattan toy store FAO Schwarz to
introduce their 11 1/2" doll likenesses, which sell for $19.99 apiece
or $34.99 as a set.
Sept. 9, 2000
Venus follows up her breakthrough at Wimbledon by blitzing the field
at the U.S. Open. The sisters are on opposite ends of the draw and
seem destined to collide in the final, but Serena loses to Lindsay
Davenport in the quarterfinals. After rebounding for a classic 4-6,
6-3, 7-5 semifinal win over rival Martina Hingis, Venus dispatches
Davenport in straight sets, 6-4, 7-5, for her second Grand Slam title.
She also extends her winning streak to 26 consecutive matches.
Sept. 20, 2000
Venus, seeded second, extends her winning streak to 32 matches when she
overpowers Russian teenager Elena Dementieva 6-2, 6-4 in the women's
singles final at Olympic Park in Sydney, Australia, and adds a gold medal
to her growing list of triumphs. She becomes only the second player to win
Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and the Olympics in the same year. (Steffi Graf
did it in 1988.) Venus laughs off the suggestion that she has nothing left
to achieve in tennis, saying, "I've never been world No. 1."
Sept. 21, 2000
Venus earns her second gold medal, teaming with Serena to overpower the
Dutch duo of Miriam Oremans and Kristie Boogert 6-1, 6-1 in just 50 minutes
-- the most one-sided final in Olympic tennis history. The triumph comes as
an early birthday present for Serena, who would turn 19 the following week.
The sisters have now won three Grand Slam doubles titles together, but
Serena says the Olympic gold "tops the lot."
Williams is honored as the Sports Illustrated for Women Sportswoman of the Year, and also wins the award for outstanding achievement in tennis at the Sportsman of the Year TV show.
July 8, 2001
Centre Court belongs to Venus once again as the 21-year-old defeats Justine
Henin of Belgium 6-1, 3-6, 6-0 for her second consecutive Wimbledon
championship. Williams, who won her first Grand Slam title at the All-England
Club in 2000, is the first back-to-back women's Wimbledon champ since Steffi
Graf in 1995-96.
"I love Wimbledon," Venus said following the victory. "It's going to be a great
place for me for years to come.
September 8, 2001
A memorable and landmark U.S. Open for both the Williams'. In the first Grand Slam final between siblings in 117 years and the first women's final televised in prime time, Venus wins her second consecutive Open, defeating Serena, 6-2, 6-4. "I'm disappointed but only a little, because Venus won," Serena said.
July 6, 2002
Serena wins the third all-Williams Grand Slam final in 10 months, defeating Venus 7-6 (4), 6-3 to capture her first Wimbledon championship. It is the third major title for Serena, who has now won three straight matches against her older sister. "I wanted to win so bad," Serena says. "I kept thinking to myself, 'OK, Serena just stay calm.' She already has two Wimbledons. Try to fight.' "
September 7, 2002
The argument about which Williams sister is the better player becomes even
more one-sided as Serena easily handles Venus in the Finals of the U.S. Open,
6-4, 6-3. It is the third straight Grand Slam title for Serena -- defeating
her sibling each time. It's also Serena's fourth straight win against Venus
-- all in straight sets.
January 25, 2003
Serena wins her fourth-straight major championship, defeating sister Venus at the Australian Open, 7-6 (4), 3-6, 6-4. This marks only the sixth time a woman has held all four of tennis' major championship titles at the same time, and the first since Steffi Graf in 1994.
Photographs by Bill Frakes, Caryn Levy, Manny Millan, Bob Martin, Shawn Baldwin/AP, Walter Iooss Jr., Marc Baptiste